Any algae producer knows that CO2 supplies are a vital component to operations, and industrial waste gases high in CO2 concentration are frequently examined as potential feedstocks.
Charles Clerecuzio, President of Solutions4CO2 (U.S.), Inc. and one of ABO’s newest corporate members, recently had the chance to discuss his company’s innovative waste gas platforms and how they are applied to the algae industry. Charles describes how some of the challenges around separating and using those gas streams are being overcome by Solutions4CO2.
Solutions4CO2, Inc. has operations in Canada and the US. Can you tell us a little about the company’s focus and its relation to the algae industry?
S4CO2 is an industrial developer of waste gas, water, and biomass to co-product platforms utilizing both proprietary and licensed technologies. S4CO2 has developed the Integrated Biogas RefineryTM (IBR) platform that processes agriculture and municipal organic waste via an anaeraobic digester (AD) into biogas, power, water and digestate. S4CO2’s Biogas Purification and Infusion SystemTM (BPIS) separates more than 85% of the CO2 and more than 95% of the H2S from the biogas and infuses these gasses into water for use in the continuous flow Algae Cultivation System (ACS) consisting of modular 10,000 gallon photo bioreactors (PBRs). This method of delivering CO2 results in 2-3X enhanced algae biomass growth rates versus traditional fine bubble spargers. The final stage in the process is the harvesting, dewatering and extraction system (HES) which results in an algae oil co-product for use in the nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, biofuel or specialty chemical markets.
The IBR platform addresses the economic and environmental challenges faced by the algae industry as the CO2, power, water and digestate from the AD are utilized as the inputs to balance of the platform reducing operating expenses and sequestering greenhouse gases.
Using waste gas as a feedstock is getting quite a bit of attention these days. What are some of the challenges to capturing and separating these gases that you have been able to overcome?
There are numerous solvent based scrubbing technologies currently in use to treat waste gas streams from a wide variety of industrial processes. The challenge with capturing and separating these gases from flue gas, particularly CO2, for downstream use in microalgae production is really economic. The flue gas streams vary widely in the volume of CO2 and contain a variety of contaminants such as mercury and particulate that limit the co-products made from the algae.
S4CO2 is focused on waste gas streams from ethanol plants and ADs with high CO2 yields and low contaminants that can be readily separated using our Biogas Purification and Infusion SystemTM. The BPIS utilizes a membrane technology to efficiently separate more than 85% of the CO2 and more than 95% of the H2S from biogas utilizing fresh, briny, waste or salt water.
Please describe how the Solutions4CO2 process can be integrated with algae cultivation.
The Integrated Biogas Refinery is a fully integrated modular platform that utilizes the waste CO2, water and digestate from the AD to cultivate microalgae. The BPIS meters nutrients and CO2 fully dissolved in water to the continuous flow Algae Cultivation System (ACS) consisting of a series of 10,000 gallon PBRs. The Harvesting and Extraction System (HES) harvests the biomass and extracts the oil to complete the process. The IBR is easily integrated with any AD technology and with any algae cultivation system.
The algae industry is moving quickly, and several large-scale demonstrations are well underway. What are the pathways to commercialization you see for Solutions4CO2?
S4CO2 is developing the first commercial IBR, due for completion in Q1 2013, in New Brunswick, Canada utilizing agricultural waste. A second IBR is planned for completion in Q2 in Ontario, Canada utilizing municipal organic waste. Other opportunities to partner with AD developers in the U.S. are also being developed.
Where do you see the algae industry heading and the role of the ABO?
The algae industry will continue to gain momentum to mainstream commercialization as numerous large scale demonstration projects come on line. The ABO is in a unique position to be the primary advocacy group supporting the development of the industry facilitating innovation, partnerships and government support. S4CO2 is very excited to be a new member of this very vital organization and the energetic network of companies to which it provides access.